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    The Road to 90pts

    Points Per Match (PPM)

     

    W
    D
    L
    F
    A
    Pts
    PPM

    Target

    26

    12

    8

    72

    43

    90

    1.96

    So far:

    24

    11

    11

    79

    48

    83

    1.80

    To go:

    2

    1

    -3

    +7

    -5

    7

    10.00

    First Goal Scored (FGS)

     

    No
    Mins
    W
    D
    L
    F
    A
    Pts
    For

    25(3p)

    27

    21

    3

    1

    59

    17

    63

    0-0

    3

    -

    0

    3

    0

    0

    0

    3

    Agin

    18(5p)

    38

    3

    5

    10

    20

    31

    14

    Shots Per Goal (SPG)

     

    FOR
    AGIN
    Shots
    Goals
    Shots
    Goals
    HOME

    311

    43

    180

    15

    AWAY

    211

    36

    219

    33

    TOTAL

    522

    79

    399

    48

    Points Projections

    Matches

    PPM

    FGS

    SPG

    Mean

    46

    83

    80

    72

    78

    Apr (45)

    82

    79

    71

    77

    Mar (40)

    83

    81

    73

    79

    Feb (33)

    78

    75

    68

    74

    Jan (28)

    84

    80

    75

    80

    Dec (24)

    94

    84

    87

    88

    Nov (19)

    92

    89

    86

    89

    Oct (16)

    95

    94

    100

    96

    Sep (11)

    75

    81

    69

    75

    Aug (6)

    69

    77

    74

    73

    Cleansheets 16 - 11 Blanks Fired

    Turnarounds

    Net Effect =  +6pts

    Comebacks

     

    -4

    -3

    -2

    -1

    Total

    L>W

    (+3pts)

    0/0

    0/0

    1/7

    2/11

    3/18

    L>D

    (+1pt)

    0/0

    0/0

    1/7

    4/11

    5/18

    Throwaways

     

    +4

    +3

    +2

    +1

    Total

    W>D

    (-2pts)

    0/1

    0/4

    0/12

    3/8

    3/25

    W>L

    (-3pts)

    0/1

    0/4

    0/12

    1/8

    1/25

    Last 5 mins

    Net Effect = +2pts

     

    D>W

    (+2)

    L>D

    (+1)

    W

    L

    D>L

    (-1)

    W>D

    (-2)

    FOR

    2

    2

    8

    2

     

     

    AGIN

     

     

    0

    3

    0

    2

    PTS

    +4

    +2

     

     

    0

    -4

    Corner Count

     

    FOR
    AGIN
    Taken
    Goals
    Taken
    Goals
    HOME

    149

    5

    86

    1

    AWAY

    132

    3

    120

    3

    TOTAL

    281

    8

    206

    4

    Welcome to the C*L*U*B!

    Bright Cider Life! is an independent, non-commercial fanzite dedicated to Bristol City FC - past, present and future. All visitors to BCL! are urged to attend all City home fixtures, purchase loads of club merchandise and visit bcfc.co.uk as often as possible.

    May 2003

    Full-time score: 0-1 (Cardiff, H - 13/05/03) - mirror image of first game without the quality cross or anyone to get on the end of it.  Such is the nature of the play-off lottery, let's make sure we'll not need them next year.

    Half-time score: 0-1 (Cardiff, A - 10/05/03) - everything to play for on Tuesday as Cardiff find the one quality cross to make the difference; both keepers make telling saves while "Homer" Webb somehow keeps Kavanagh on the pitch.

     

     

    Scoreline

    Shots For

    Shots A'st

    Corners

     

    Mins
    Scorer
    Assist
    For
    Agin
    On
    Off
    On
    Off
    For
    Agin
    SF1(A)

    74

    Thorne

    Bolland

    0

    1

    2

    7

    6

    6

    3

    3

    SF2(H)

    -

    -

    -

    0

    0

    8

    8

    1

    4

    5

    4

     

    Bridging the Gap (Port Vale, 03/05/03) - and so the road to the promised land truly does lie over the Severn Crossing!

     

    April 2003

    Cheated! (Cheaterfield, 26/04/03) - City's hopes of taking the challenge for automatic promotion (and Cheltenham Town's hopes of staying up) sacrificed on the altar of one linesman's ego, playing on the inexperience of referee Williamson.  

    How much more satisfying will it be to win through the play-offs now in the face of such injustice?

     

    Guide Us Oh Thou Christian Roberts! (Cardiff, 22/04/03)- once again, the pace and direction of Cardiff old boy Chris Roberts allied to that of the irrepressible Scoot Murray proved too much for Cardiff to cope with. No less impressive were the performances of Matt Hill and Danny Coles at the back, the latter proving once again that if you stop Earnshaw you stop Cardiff ... song (tune: Cwm Rhondda) 

    Guide us oh thou Christian Roberts,

    Pilgrim from that barren land :)

    Thou art Welsh but thou art mighty,

    Guide us to the promised land -

    Goals v Cardiff

    Goals v Cardiff

    Score them till we need no more!

    Score them till we need no more!

     

    Draw Snatched from Jaws of Victory (Luton, 19/04/03) - just as a famous comeback seemed favourite, after having to play catch-up again, so the old aerial failings returned to haunt us. Yet we live to fight another day.  

     

    Awayday Penalty Jinx Strikes Again (Crewe, 15/04/03) - for the fifth time this season on their travels City conceded the opening goal to a penalty. The other four signalled defeat so many thanks to Christian Roberts for a great equaliser; onward ever onward.

     

    Five past Stags points the way (Mansfield-Taylor, 12/04/03) - confident City rise above desperate "refereeing" to keep the ship on course ... more (later maybe)

     

    LDV Springboard (Carlisle, 06/04/0) - let's hope the Rosenior-sparked win in Cardiff proves to be the taste of success the springboard for further honours.

     
    March 2003

    London/CaRDIFF COACH - £13 return

    At the time of writing (23rd March) there are a dozen seats left on a special coach for LDV Final ... details, including contact ... here

    Tinman - Ten Years After (click for event details)

    Brian Tinnion was signed by Russell Osman for a bargain 180k from Bradford City on 22nd March 1993 when we were all quite young. Two days later he laid on the first of many City goals - a consolation effort by Leroy Rosenior at the County Ground, Swindle. Now, ten years and almost as many managers later, he's treading the turf alongside Rosenior Jr!

     

    To celebrate the achievement, Ciity fan David Lloyd has organised a fans’ tribute evening to take place in the Red and White bar on Thursday April 3rd - a nice little warm-up for the LDV final three days later. There are 400 tickets up for grabs at only £5 a piece and all proceeds from the evening will go to the Bristol City FA Premier Academy at Brian's request.

     

    Highlights of the evening include:

     

    • Video clips of Tin's greatest City moments.

    • Interview and questions from the floor about his City career.

    • Revelation of his top City XI, selected from colleagues at Ashton Gate since 1993.

    • “Phoenix From the Flames” - Anfield, the free kick at Cambridge, that sort of caper.

    • Grand Raffle

    • Question Time with the panel:

    • Brian Tinnion

    • Tony Fawthrop

    • Steve Lansdown

    • Geroff Twentyman

    • Plus the FAN who's City XI most closely matches Brian's own! (IT COULD BE YOU!!!)

     

    Please send all Bristol City XI entries, questions for the panel and/or offers of raffle prizes to David Lloyd.

    Tails Up! (Spurs U/19 & Barnsley, 29/03/03)- the early season goalgetters make the scoresheet as Lee Peacock continues to strut his stuff to better effect. Earlier in the day, Spurs' Mark Yeats steals the show at U/19 level despite a brace from Darren Hawkins ... more (later)

     

    So farewell then Mark Robins (Swindle, 19/03/03)- you weren't here long but did you ever show us what we've been missing these last few years! - since Shaun Goater left, in fact, almost four years ago to the day. Six league appearances, four goals ... and all of them the "icebreaker",  the vital first goal of the match. Let's hope someone else steps up to fill those boots and quick!

     

    Two point swing to City (Peterborough, 15/03/03)- after a start which suggested City could run up a cricket score against a poor Posh outfit, in the end a schizophrenic performance saw us thankful for all three points on a weekend where everybody else only drew. Poor as the footballing fare was as a spectacle at least it was better than the caterwauling served up as half-time "entertainment" by something called Hussey!

     

    Semi-final cakewalk for Rezzies (Cheltenham Tn res, 06/03/03)-Bishopston Red was there ... more

    Went down the Gate tonight with me notebook to do one of those professional type-report thingamajigs. Let me know what you think!

     

    Gloucestershire Senior Cup Semi-Final

    City Reserves 6-0 Cheltenham Reserves

    Lita 5, 7

    Beadle 36

    Hawkins 66

    Harley 73, 89

    City: Stowell, Amankwaah, Woodman (capt.), Simpson, Fortune, Rosenior,

    Loxton, Hulbert, Hawkins, Beadle, Lita.

    Subs: Correia, Hodgson (gk), McGuire, Harley, Metitiri.

     

    City's strong reserve line-up cruised through to the final of the

    Gloucestershire Senior Cup, overwhelming a young Cheltenham team comprised entirely of under-19 year olds.

     

    Darren Hawkins was the star of the show, being directly involved in five of the six goals. A powerful display on first the left then the right flanks left a real impression on the mind and left Cheltenham's young team chasing shadows.

     

    City lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Woodman at left back, Simpson and Fortune in the centre with Amankwaah at right back. Rosenior played on the right side of midfield, Loxton and Hulbert in the centre with Hawkins on the left. Beadle and Lita started up front.

     

    In the very first minute Hawkins drew a good save from Danny Edwards in the Town goal, forcing the first of many corners. Good work by Hawkins on the left after five minutes saw Craig Loxton burst into the box and square for Lita to tap into an open net. A sign of things to come as Cheltenham's inexperienced defence were split open almost at will.

     

    It only took another 2 minutes for City to double their lead. Hawkins raced on to a long ball and out paced his marker. His shot was parried by Edwards but Leroy Lita followed up for his second goal of the game. Cheltenham then had their one and only shot of the game as Les Davis curled a simple shot straight at Stowell. Craig Woodman then burst through some lacklustre tackling to fire just wide from the edge of the box.

     

    On 15 minutes Hawkins showed good strength to get into a shooting position from Simpson's pass but Edwards saved the 1-on-1 well.

    Two minutes later Robin Hulbert launched a magnificent chip from 25-yards which came back off the crossbar. A real moment of quality.  Lita drew yet another save from Edwards on the half hour after good work from Beadle and Rosenior. On 36 minutes City were 3 up. Hawkins chased a Lita flick-on on the left hand side and delivered a wicked cross into the box. Edwards brilliantly parried a Lita header but Beadle was on hand to nod home into the empty net.

     

    That was about it for the first half, City thoroughly in control and poor Cheltenham left chasing shadows in front of manager Bobby Gould.

     

    The second half saw more of the same, Edwards keeping out anything City could throw at him. Rosenior's shot from the edge of the box, Lita's volley and Fortune's acrobatic effort are all repelled by the custodian but it looks only a matter of time before City increased their lead.

     

    And so it proved on 66 minutes as Rosenior's quick free-kick set Hawkins free down the left hand side. He kept his head, raced into the box and coolly slotted home under Edwards in front of the Atyeo stand. 4-0.  Boss Shaun Taylor made a double substitution on 72 minutes, Ryan Harley replacing Rosenior and taking up Hawkins' position on the left with Hawkins moving to the right. Lee McGuire replaced Beadle up front.

     

    It proved an inspired substitution as Harley excellently fired home with his first touch following good work from Hawkins, Hulbert and McGuire on the right and a little fortune as Lita miskicked. A lovely volley into the bottom corner.

     

    Harley looked very lively and his cross to Hawkins should've seen the youngster score his second but Edwards pulled off another very good save. Then Harley found himself in the clear and expertly rounded the keeper but Marvin Thompson did well to get back and clear.

     

    Albano Correia - back from Rovers - replaced Leroy Lita on 80 minutes. On 82 Sekani Simpson missed a sitter from a Loxton corner, so it was left to Harley to wrap up the scoring in the 89th minute, finishing with his right foot after sent clear by McGuire.

     

    Overall it was a very professional performance by the lads who were up against a far inferior side, bar keeper Edwards who kept the score in single figures. Hawkins and Harley were the stand-out men, it's particularly exciting to see Harley looking such a good prospect on the left wing - another potential star for the future emerges from the academy.

     

    Ratings:

    Stowell 6 - Barely touched the ball.

     

    Woodman 7 - Never tested defensively but perhaps could've got forward more. Solid.

     

    Fortune 8 - Pick of the bunch at the back, did his job expertly, never allowing the forwards a sniff.

     

    Simpson 7 - Not as composed as Fortune but a solid showing nonetheless.

     

    Amankwaah 7 - Very quiet for half an hour but came into it more after the break. Just great to see him back in a red shirt.

     

    Hawkins 9 - Man of the Match. Excellent. First down the left, then the right, Darren put in cross after cross and never stopped running. Not one who would instantly strike you as a star - physically anyway - but if he continues producing performances like this then he's going to have a big future.

     

    Loxton 6 - Not involved much but seemed capable when in possession. Too quiet in such a one-sided game.

     

    Hulbert 6 - Like Loxton, not really involved much. Good touch on the ball. Picked up a knock in the second half but seemed to shake it off OK.

     

    Rosenior 7 - Some brilliant moments but often drifted and put some over-ambitious passes astray. Too good for this sort of game really.

     

    Beadle 6 - Looked unfit and slow. Won headers for fun but didn't look like a potential first-teamer.

     

    Lita 8 - Always in the right place at the right time as far as goals are concerned. Only criticism is that he should've had at least 4 goals but Edwards did well. A goalscorer at heart. Caught offside too often though.

     

    McGuire 7 - Looked good up front when he came and set up Harley's second. Not convinced he'll make it though - but he's still young.

     

    Harley 8 - This lad looked dynamite down the left. Some cracking crosses and two excellent finishes. Show me more!

     

    Correia 6 - Not long to get involved, and didn't. A reasonably enjoyable game but with Cheltenham's kids getting near bed-time the game was verging on the farce at times.

     

    As usual though, reserve games are a good indicator of talent to come; Darren Hawkins and Ryan Harley really pushed their cases tonight - some of the next batch perhaps?

     

    City now face either Rovers or Mangotsfield in the final - I think the Mangos would give us a stiffer test...........

     

    Match facts (as compiled by me!):

    Shots on target - City 14, Cheltenham, 1

    Shots off target - City 4, Cheltenham 0

    Corners - City 7, Cheltenham 3

    Offsides - City 4, Cheltenham 3

     

    Bookings/Sendings Off - City 0, Cheltenham 0

     

    Attendance - 150ish.

     

    Belief ... (Oldham Athletic, 04/03/03)- what a privilege it was to witness this performance ... if I ever get time I'll do a fullish report. But for now my heartfelt thanks to Scoot for the best individual goal I've seen live since a Mick Channon effort past Peter Shilton in 1972! - also to the whole team for displaying the power, passion and self-belief they will need for the rest of this season.

     

    By the left ... (Cheltenham Town, 01/03/03)- unfamiliar look to the matchfacts page after the Cheltenham game with all three assists coming from the left flank, let's hope it becomes a habit!

    February 2003

    Rezzies in Party Mood (26/02/03)- City's understudies must have wondered what was going on as they arrived at the County Ground to find their changing room full of balloons, banners and bunting celebrating the 40th birthday of coach Shaun Taylor. Its no secret the big man remains popular at his old club, but this? ... the explanation is that Shaun's sister still works there and had planned the surprise welcome! ... more

    And, after conceding a poor early goal, Taylor's team were soon into their party stride themselves playing the sort of patient, probing football that is also the hallmark of Danny Wilson's first team at its best. It was like watching a cat torment a mouse as City starved their hosts of possession except for the odd poor first touch in forward areas; even from the ensuing breaks there was no respite as City hit back hard and fast when the opportunities arose.

     

    City: Stowell - Amankwaah, Metitri (Bailey 65), Fortune, Woodman - Rosenior, Loxton, Hulbert, Hawkins - Lita, Correia (Allcock 76)  SNU: Hodgson, Simpson, McGuire

     

    Eyecatchers: Woodman, Hawkins, Allcock

     

    Activity Log

    Mins

     

    3

    City defence parted like the yellow sea (Swindle played in red) for Dykes to stab past the slow-off-his-line Stowell. 0-1

    6

    Hulbert effort from 20yards just clears bar

    8

    Good work by Hulbert and Woodman sees latter's cross meekly headed into keeper's gloves by Rosenior

    10

    Great 30 yard effort from Woodman following a period of possession - just tipped out of top left corner

    23

    Rosenior puts Lita clear but control lets him down as he seeks to cut back and shoot rather than cross (the more obvious option)

    27

    Stowell saves at near post as Dykes plays Edwards in

    32

    Rosenior cut back for Albano who lets in run before being blocked out, a first time shot might have paid dividends

    34

    Hulbert spoken to after taking his revenge for an earlier knee in the slats!

    36

    Lita lays off to Albano when should have taken it on into area (oh well!)

    38

    Great ball from Loxton finds Rosenior breaking, he carries it by-line and cuts back to far post for Hawkins (who'd made yards of ground) to head in. 1-1

    42

    Lita shot deflected into keeper's arms along ground - good number of midfielders in support of this attack

    43

    Rosenior header into keeper's arms from another well supported move

    45

    Long pass out of defence from metitri expertly taken by Lita who rounds keeper to stroke in for a well-deserved lead. 2-1

    H/T

    Swindle 1-2 City

    The second half was remarkable for the number of local kids who'd turned up to watch, obviously thinking it was a 3.00pm k/o - by the time they all got in it was one of the largest crowds at the County Ground this season!

    46

    Lita sent clear and finishes one-on-one only to be "adjudged" offside (I saw no daylight)

    61

    Excellent work from Dykes (by far Swindle's best player) ends with 20yd piledriver which Stowell beats away. Young fluffs the rebound chance.

    62

    O'Halloran returns from long injury lay-off for the hosts

    63

    Good interplay by Correia, Lita, Loxton on the break sees Hawkins drive narrowly wide from 30yds

    65

    Sam Bailey on for Kes Metitri

    70

    Correia for contesting a 50-50 ball just because their lad Halliday got more hurt than he did

    75

    Misplaced pass by O'Halloran seized on by Hawkins who just shows too much and got hurt by lunging tackle that stopped him

    76

    Allcock on for Correia (poss injury). From clever free kick Rosenior tricks his way into the box to win a corner. Short corner prevented by player standing 5yds away so Rosenior aims long but scuffs it; it breaks to Hulbert off the defenders who cooling picks his spot from 20 yards. 3-1

    77

    Crosby just stabs a shot wide from a cross in a rare Swindon move

    78

    1) Rosenior corner from the right this time floats a la first team into keeper's arms!, 2) Rosenior plays Allcock in to hit a fine cross which the keeper can only tip to Lita, his shot blocked

    81

    Hawkins just overruns the ball cutting into the area at pace

    83

    Pook finally booked for another foul on Hulbert 25 yds out. Rosenior just clears bar with cheeky effort.

    89

    Great cut back from by-line by Hawkins eluded keeper and wouldn't come down quick enough for Allcock; his shot rebounds to Rosenior who blazes wide.

    90

    Lino atones for 46th min error by allowing Allcock to receive while 5 yards offside, he squares it to Lita who takes it round keeper and taps home for a more realistc scoreline. 4-1

     

     

    Well Done Danny and the Lads!!! (25/02/03) - Look forward to seeing you walk out on the hallowed turf. We'll all have a grand day out over the bridge but need to remember there's seven league matches before then and they are all more important!

     

    The Past is History, the Future Mystery (20/02/03) - "past performance is no guarantee of future performance" - so it says on all the warnings for financial products and the very same is true for football performance. Given the nature of his day job, I'm guessing nobody would be more aware of all that than Chairman Steve Lansdown for City's 2002/03 season has been a prime example.

    Time will tell if Mark Robins can do the job of finishing the abundant chances City create and in so doing restore the promotion challenge. But his arrival, after 32 games, came not a moment too soon ... more

    because the "relegation form" of Jan/Feb sees City standing on the cusp of either chucking away a whole season, or rediscovering the form that saw us in an automatic promotion placing as recently as New Year.

    Earlier in the season we were brushing teams aside, playing an irresistible brand of attacking football, so what has gone wrong?

    The tables below show that performance has declined steadily since the high water mark at the end of October while results held up until the end of December and then nosedived. These landmarks enable the season so far to be conveniently broken down into four sets of eight matches each.

    The harsh reality of adverse results states the obvious: draws against Luton, Plymouth, Stockport and Brentford, alongside defeats by Wycombe, Wigan, Colchester and Notts County have led to a dreadful points haul over the last eight games compared to the preceding 2pts/game form. The dearth of goals scored over this run is immediately apparent from the first table.

     

    RESULTS

    W

    D

    L

    F

    A

    Pts

    1-8

    5

    0

    3

    13

    7

    15

    9-16

    6

    0

    2

    18

    8

    18

    17-24

    4

    4

    0

    19

    11

    15

    25-32

    0

    4

    4

    4

    10

    4

    Total

    15

    8

    9

    54

    36

    53

     

    The second table looks more closely at the performance in front of goal at either end of the pitch: whereas in the first 24 matches we scored 50 goals from 266 attempts (ave 5.3 shots per goal) the four scored in 2003 have needed 27.3 shots a piece!

    Perhaps the attack was feeling the strain of having to chase games as a result of the defence conceding goals too cheaply? The defensive decline began before the attacking one: in the first 16 matches, opponents were asked to create 10.9 shots for every goal scored against City, since match 17 (*that* one at Mansfield) they have only needed 6.1 shots per goal. But perhaps the defence get the jitters when they see so many chances being wasted at the other end of the pitch?

     

    SHOTS PER GOAL

    FOR

    AGIN

    Shots

    %on

    Gls

    SPG

    Shots

    %on

    Gls

    SPG

    1-8

    94

    61

    13

    7.2

    77

    52

    7

    11.0

    9-16

    84

    66

    18

    4.6

    87

    51

    8

    10.9

    17-24

    90

    58

    19

    4.7

    70

    63

    11

    6.4

    25-32

    109*

    47

    4

    27.3

    58**

    57

    10

    5.8

    Total

    375

    57

    54

    6.9

    292

    54

    36

    8.1

    *   You need to create more if you keep missing!

    ** They don't need to create so many if we let them in too easily!

     

    Finally, the importance of taking the early chances, especially, can’t be overstated. Because, being in the lead should put you in control of the match in line with the oft-quoted maxim “goals change games” – City are actually very good at this because 38 of this season’s points have come from the 15 games we’ve scored first in and only 12 pts from the 14 where the opposition have been allowed first blood.

    Unfortunately, the longer this season has gone on the more often we’ve found ourselves chasing the game and whilst its great to come back and win - as we have at Cheltenham, Mansfield and at home to Notts County – how much more convincing would the promotion claims be if the sensational record of taking the lead in eight consecutive games (as we did in October) be rediscovered?

     

    FIRST GOAL SCORED

    FOR

    Ave Time

    0-0

    AGIN

    Ave Time

    F/A

    1-8

    4

    48

    0

    4

    53

    1.00

    9-16

    7

    18

    0

    1

    70

    7.00

    17-24

    3

    37

    1

    4

    36

    0.75

    25-32

    1

    10

    2

    5

    37

    0.20

    Totals

    15

    29

    3

    14

    43

    1.07

     

    Outlining the problems as above is one thing, coming up with the solutions quite another and that is where the manager and his coaching staff come in. Robins can only be a good move as only Shaun Goater’s City record in recent times bears comparison in this division.

    Whilst his 24 goals in 42 apps took Rotherham up with a very low shots-to-goal ratio, it should be recognised that was in tandem with a very mean defence. The hope hereabouts must be that his presence will bolster the confidence and self-belief of our existing goalgetters and help them rediscover their excellent early season form. If so, allied to the luck every side needs, the goals they score between them could put enough games out of sight for the soft goals conceded to be less embarassing.

     

    The Timeform Squiggle (Notts Co., 15/02/03)- within the space of eight days City have gone from making Colchester look like Real Madrid, to looking something like their best against the Bees, then back to damp lettuce leaf mode again today. Racing afficianados will be familiar with the symbol that is placed against the name of a horse of doubtful character in the Timeform guide - akin to a double question mark - reckon that's what we've got here!

     

    Signs of Recovery? (Brentford, 11/02/03) - although it could be construed as another two points dropped, extending to ten the number of consecutive victories required to get back on the 2pts/match track, this was a much improved performance which gives hope for better fortune to season's end...more ...
    The upturn in fortunes from the early season setbacks at Wigan, Brentford and Plymouth and at home to QPR was performance led. That is to say the players found it in themselves to play consistently well at the high tempo required, and because of it results followed for as long as they were able to sustain the pace and, crucially, while early chances were taken.
    Actually even when performances dropped off, e.g. some shakiness setting in at the back, results held up for a while thanks to the "feelgood" factor before following them back down.
    Last night, the tempo returned in some measure but the final ball and finishing was absent. When/if it returns we can consolidate a play-off place so long as the players remember that it is the tempo thing that will take them back up.

     

    Do This Lot Really Believe? (Colchester, 08/02/03) - ex-players dating back to WWII held their annual reunion at Ashton Gate today; around twenty of them shuffled their arthritic way out to the centre circle at half-time for their well-earned salutes. They might just as well have been given red shirts and told to stay out there for the second half for all we got from their latter day counterparts! ... more ...
    This was a pitiful showing against managerless opposition which produced the princely total of three on target shots. Is this really the same team that earlier in the season were brushing opposition from the wrong end of the table aside with contemptuous ease? Does that last question hold the key to this team's character? Are they just "flat-track bullies", or "fair-weather sailors", or whatever the footballing equivalent is of players who make things look easy when things are going well but shy away from the fray when the going gets tough?
    Some supporters, as usual, rush to blame the manager - and it would help if his radio interviews at least acknowledged the fact that fans have a right to be upset at such "performances" - yet he can not pass the ball for his players, nor can he move into a better position for them, nor can he close-down the opponents for them.
    Motivation? ... it comes from within and is founded upon self-belief, that is what keeps the fighter standing when he's taken a few blows. On the evidence of today, City's players should be taking a good long look within themselves to see if they truly have what it takes to be winners.

    January 2003

    The Going Just Got Tough Again (26/01/03)- however many points you find yourselves behind 2pts/game - and at the end of October City were well ahead of it - that's how many consecutive victories you need to claw yourselves back there! Every time you draw you add another win to that target and every time you lose you add another two... more ...
    It increasingly looks as though not just Wigan but whoever goes up with them will exceed that 92pts barrier and with the finishing straight rapidly coming into sight City's first win of 2003 can't come a moment too soon, because the current demand to get back on an even keel has already risen to five straight wins!
    So what has gone wrong since Halloween Night which as the chart below shows has been the high water mark of our season so far? Since the narrow home win over Huddersfield courtesy of a Matt Hill goal, the performance indicators - First Goal Scored (FGS) and Shots Per Goal (SPG) - have been on the slide and after holding up for a while so the results have followed them down.
    "Goals change games"
    remember but only four times in the last twelve matches have City put themselves in the box seat by scoring the game's first goal. It isn't as though they haven't had chances but too few shots in those three months have been 'on target' never mind found the net. Nor has the defence covered itself in glory in that period; the only clean sheet came in the stultifying goal-less draw with Plymouth on Boxing Day and the last 17 goals conceded have come from only 101 opposition attempts ... none of this is the mark of a team heading for automatic promotion.
    What's to be done? - well, either things carry on sliding away as they are in the hope that the excellent results from earlier in the season deliver a play-off place or players of the requisite proven class are brought in to rekindle the challenge for automatic promotion ... I know which I'd prefer to happen!

     

    Some Days are Better Than Other Days! (Reading U19s, Stockport, 25/01/03) - more later (if I can muster the enthusiasm!).

     

    Quality Counts (Wigan, 10/01/03) - there's an old football adage that says "good big'uns will always beat good little'uns" and when the big'uns are as fit, focussed and well-organised as Wigan were tonight then it would take something special to beat them ... more It might not have affected the result but it also helps if the big'uns find such a compliant referee - as Mr Poo was - in allowing some red card "challenges" go unpunished by his fellow Northcountrymen.
    As the last few games have shown, with so many regulars nursing the effects of a heavy Xmas programme, the City squad lacks that something special at present and certainly can't survive allowing teams as good as Wigan to take the lead. By contrast, Wigan looked in peak condition as well as super-confident as befits a team with their recent form.
    One-nil to the visitors was then a fair result with Peter Kennedy's effort from a direct free kick brutally rubbing-in the fact that City had four similar chances without once hitting the target! (do we practice them at all?).

     

    Outfoxed in t'Cup (Leicester, 04/01/03) - One poorly defended set-piece (again!) on the stroke of half time and a swift counterattack mid-way through the second half provided the goals that ended City's interest in this year's FA Cup... more ... City played an awful lot of good football at the impressive Crisp Bowl stadium, unfortunately none of it in their host's penalty area. By contrast to City's honest but limited endeavours, Leicester's economy of effort saw the pace and precision of their passing increase when they approached our goal; there was also so much more venom in their shooting whenever they got a sight of goal while City seemed to dither.  

    MID-TERM REPORT (01/01/03)

    Ordinarily a return of better than two points a game for the first half of the season would be reason enough to place the order for Champagne in May.

     

    However, City are only one of three clubs with claims to such a good record along with Wigan and Cardiff, plus Oldham and Crewe are not far in arrears. So dominant have these five teams been that they are six points clear of sixth placed Luton while the twelve teams in the bottom half of the table are covered by only six points. City, for example, prior to today's defeat at Wycombe had taken 34 out of a possible 36 points from these sides (and led twice in the draw at Colchester); if this is evidence of a talent gap in the division, it follows therefore that it is the results against one another that will determine which of the top group proceed to automatic promotion. This is an aspect of performance that City still need to improve upon and will have an early chance at home to Wigan on 10th January in search of a new unbeaten run.

     

    Second place at the turn of the year is testament to the view expressed in the BCL! Preview of 2002/03 that City can mount a promotion challenge.

     

    As the Points Projections on the home page show, results have been outstripping performances of late and whilst this is never a bad habit to have, sooner or later readjustments occur as the two form-lines converge. This was expressed very well in the Times journalist Tom Dart's assessment of the Notts County game - "in football, justice and sloppiness do not normally keep each other company for long." - and if there is a single feature of play that has caused City more trouble than any other it is the conceding of sloppy goals. In particular, for a team intent on promotion, City are beginning to concede the first goal of the match far too often for comfort - comebacks are great but cannot be relied upon, far better to take control and keep it than to be chasing games too often.

     

    DECEMBER REVIEW

    Hotpot (Stockport, 28/12/02) - no feeling of Christmas left-overs in this one, where in Danny Wilson's words Stockport were flattered to lose by only 1-4 ... more ... on a playing surface even better than Ashton Gate at its best (which it wasn't on Boxing day), City strolled through the home defence almost at will. But for hitting the post, being denied an obvious penalty and a number of fine saves from Emberson City could have run up a scoreline in double figures.

    Great to see goals coming from youngsters Coles and Rosenior, and a much improved performance from Lee Peacock.

     

    Cold Turkey (Plymouth, 26/12/02) - a jaded performance from a City side that looked mentally and physically weary and yet, such is the foolishness of this game, one that proved good enough to leap-frog over Cardiff into a promotion spot. City's best efforts against a Plymouth side dressed up like traffic cones were from long range courtesy of defenders Hill and Coles; referee Hall had distinctly different ideas about what merited a yellow card depending on the colour of the shirt but did not affect the result. In short, an eminently forgettable match.

     

    Travesty Avoided (Luton, 21/12/02) - all good runs must come to an end but how aggrieved would we have felt if the current run had been ended by the soft goal granted to a Luton side that offered nothing but old-style Wimbledon "spoiling tactics" all afternoon? (adequately reflected in the card count) ... more ... City were no better or worse than in many other performances this season except in one key regard, which was the quality of the final ball into the box. Too often this was overhit to an unpopulated far post or played behind forwards who had already made their move; nobody seems to hang back.

    That said, the woodwork still saved the visitors on three occasions after excellent efforts from Peacock, Doherty and Beadle. Added to that bad luck, there was the woeful officiating from Mr Cooper and his Wiltshire (oh the shame!) linesmen who between them invented a ludicrous offside against Peacock when the ball came back from the bar! and pretended not to see the clear push on Liam Rosenior as he waited under the rebound from Tommy's effort.

    One thing they got right was the Thug Davis' dismissal and it is to be hoped they properly report his second elbow on Tommy and inciting remark to the crowd as he left the field. As he showed in his Swindon days - and with the (unpunished) late high lunge that put Joe Burnell out of this game - he really is a nasty piece of work and needs to learn hard lessons fast.

     

    Onward Christian Roberts! (Cardiff, 14/12/02) - dream return to Ninian Park for the Roberts boyo ... more ... a supremely well-organised and disciplined City outfit made the short trip over the Severn and clinically despatched the Cardiff challenge in this promotion six-pointer. The Rodneys had made most of the noise in the build-up to the game but seeing so many of them leaving the ground early said it all.

    Job done - bring on the Luton!

     

    Four seasons in one day (Notts Co, 04/12/02) - the first attempt to play Notts County ended in a downpour of biblical proportions that flooded Ashton Gate just after half-time ... more ... just about the only thing this replay had in common was that County took the lead through a soft goal.
    Recent events suggest that City would have found the spirit to recover anyway (as they did this time) but the worrying thing is the number and type of goals City are conceding to teams that they have totally outplayed. Moreover, distinct signs of defensive frailties were apparent in a performance that was far Dr Jeckyll than Mr Hyde.
    Bottom Line ..."Entertaining and successful is an attractive combination, but City supporters could probably do without the acccompanying stress and they should beware: in football, justice and sloppiness do not normally keep each other company for long." - Tom Dart, The Times

     

    It's good to be back! (01/12/02) - unfortunately, system failures took BCL! offline for most of October and November but I'm pleased to say that we're back up-and-running normally again ... and what a pleasure it has been to note the lad's progress in the meantime! ... more ... If you check out the 2001/02 link below you'll see that the following aspects of performance were identified as candidates for improvement, particularly in terms of the "inner game":
    * goals in the last five minutes of matches,
    * record against the teams above us (and cup matches),
    * set pieces at both ends of the pitch
    So far so good then as the stats listed left help to illustrate. Mentally and physically the squad look to have made a necessary stride forward and now, as last year, we must hope to avoid too many problems with injuries and suspensions amongst the key players.
    As for the 2002/03 preview below, the counter was given to the gloom-and-doom merchants who predicted mid-table mediocrity or worse - where now all those siren voices who said City would miss Tony Thorpe?
    It remains to be seen how our nearest rivals would cope with the level of injuries our squad has already endured. To the squad's great credit we have still averaged 2pts/game to this point yet the quality of the division this season is underlined by the fact that Wigan and Cardiff have a better record. Crewe showed yesterday that with their best team available they too will be a force.
    Bottom line ... ... three red cards & two penalties given away and the only time neither of these things happened we came back to win (albeit vs the poorest side we've played).

    But the real question, if we're going to make a habit of playing with ten men (even the rezzies got in on the act yesterday), is how come Wigan can do it and still score twice to win at Tranmere whereas its always used as an excuse for our defeats?

     

     

    OCTOBER/NOVEMBER REVIEW

    BCL! Offline for 6 weeks due to system failure :(

     

    MATCH REPORT (Chesterfield, 07/10/02) - big scorelines should always be treated with a bit of caution ... more ... for fear of complacency setting in. In general, I've always felt they say more about the beaten side than the victors and Chesterfield were certainly made to look a very pedestrian outfit by the fleet-footedness of Aaron Brown, Chris Roberts and Scoot Murray running onto Tin's quality passes.

    However, you can only beat what turns up to oppose you and they can only look as good as you let them. The 4-0 scoreline was, boosted by two late strikes from Scoot, was far from unfair, indeed it wouldn't have been unfair as the half-time score - only two/three saves from the top drawer by Muggleton stood between the spirites and complete humiliation.

    City's whole approach was marvelously positive and I must say that the aspect of play that impressed me most was the tenacity of our work in closing-down the opposition all over the field; some of our tackling was superb with every man earning his week's corn in full measure - having set their standard I look forward to seeing them uphold it.
     

     

    Well done Benny Lennartsson - BCL! takes its hat off to you!!! ... he pointed the way forward at Ashton Gate (but the board brought in Pulis instead), now he's pointed the way out for Bates' bumblers.

     

    The Lita of Hope? (Port Vale, 01/10/02) ... no sign of an end to City's topsy-turvy early season form, but ... more ... could Leroy Lita's first league goal, in added time at Port Vale, be the beacon of hope we need to carry into the next couple of months' fixtures?

    A quarter of the season gone and somehow the expression "curate's egg" springs to mind. Every time you thought City might have rumbled what it takes to put together a run of consistently good form someone got himself sent off and/or gave away a penalty.

    Pro rata to BCL!'s 90pt promotion target eleven matches would have yielded 21pts, i.e. three more than we have actually achieved ... take a look at the matchfacts for the Brentford game, for example, and you'll see how very slight is the difference between success and failure. The manager, consistent as ever, has been at pains on several occasions to point out the importance of taking the chances that do come your way. Moreover, the phrase "goals change matches" has become something of a mantra with him - a quick check of the relationship between the team that scores the first goal and the outcome of the match shows why.

    Bottom Line ... by sheer happenstance, I saw Christopher "Superman" Reeve's interview with David Frost on Sunday morning. In it he pointed out that the difference between HOPE and mere optimism or wishful thinking was that true hope has something concrete underpinning it.

    In relation to this season, I believe City can retain hope based on our ability to create enough chances for ourselves which - IF THE MISTAKES CAN BE CUT DOWN - would be enough to underpin a renewed challenge.

    Let's hope the next month or two brings Manager of the Month form because it can be done!

     

     

    SEPTEMBER REVIEW

    Confessional (QPR, 22/09/02): It's all my fault! ... more ... five wins? I've seen them all - five defeats?, I've not seen one of them! And the bad news is I'm not likely to see more than a couple more away games this season, so that's a maximum 75pts.

    This time last week I commented the next two matches were against the only other teams in the top seven we hadn't already played. City being City we found different ways of losing them both, suggesting there's still some way to go on grafting the necessary character on to a squad that has the potential to achieve. Has it the ambition, the belief and the daring though?

     

    Random Thought (18/09/02): Five away matches, conceding the first goal every time ... more we can beat any side in the division on our day and have shown good signs that we know how to hold our nerve ... fingers crossed!    

     

    MATCH NOTES (Cheltenham, 15/09/02): I've only seen City five times this season and those are the ones we've won! ... more ... last season City waited until the end of December to come from behind to win a match so let's hope the character displayed today is stored away in the squad's collective subconscious memory for future good use as and when ... also, by this same time next week we'll have played all of the other teams in the current top seven; let's not get too carried away but it will be interesting to see what the table looks like when they can all say the same thing!

    Danny's team selection raised a few eyebrows before the game and also the question whether we'd form up in 3-5-2 or 4-4-2; in the event, both were used in that order for half-a-game each with the ever flexible Joe B being the man to drop from midfield to right back. It is probable that the upcoming Oldham and QPR games were part of the reasoning for resting Tins and Roberts - veterans have to be used sparingly especially after injury and the latter can't be expected to run himself into the ground every match.

    Leaving the first two minutes aside, City really should have had this sewn up long before Matthews' screaming free kick early in the second half. Its an excellent sign that we came from behind twice to win but, on the other hand, we missed about six good chances before they took the lead for the second time and, frankly, their defence was pants. Such pressure as we were under came from our own mistakes, giving the ball away and free kicks in midfield so they could aim them at Alsopp's big head.

    However, we did work 'ard and let's hope that continues to be the case because we'll need to when we play better teams than Cheltenham.

    Footnote: quite how the ref could justify booking Aaron Brown for an untidy but genuine challenge for the ball, yet allow deliberate late tackles by Alsopp, Yates and McCauley to go unpunished only he will know (possibly).
     

     

    Personal note (07/09/02): now that's what I call a birthweek! - seeing City teams in action three times, scoring 11 goals without reply (and  Glamorgan won twice to go clear at the top of the one-day league)

     

    MATCH NOTES: Leapy Relishes the Bristol Nightlife (Northampton, 06/0/02) ... Cobblers join a growing list of clubs to leave Bristol with nothing to show ... more ... "and now you've gotta believe us!", the City's gotta chance.

    Just think, even average luck away from home with our shots that hit the post, penalties awarded against us and earrly dismissals ... and we'd probably have accrued five points more than the current haul, which would have us sitting top of the league. That will come, sure as eggs is eggs because this side is improving all the time; probably our best since the mid-70s, and with the same nucleus of home produced talent.

    Tony Butler once gain underlined his status as the missing ingredient: a seasoned pro with a winning way about him, been there, done that, seen it, heard it ... oozing confidence to those around him.

    Mssrs Hulbert, Doherty, Clist, Woodman and Burnell all up for it - showing that as long as places are up for grabs they'll be scrapping tooth and nail to see their name on the teamsheet.

    Chris Roberts providing the vital ambition and pace in the front line that sees him prepared to hound and harry defenders to distraction for every minute he's on the pitch.

    But BCL!'s man of this match has to be two-goal hero Lee Peacock who looked to be right back  on his game under the AG floodlights - perhaps he's just a creature of the night who doesn't like playing in daylight?

     

    MATCH NOTES: Gloucs Senior Cup Final - Emphatic Win for  Rezzies (Cirencester, 03/09/02) ... Corinium falls to Shaun Taylor's young Turks ... more ... Cirencester Town 0-6 City Reserves

    CITY (3-4-1-2): Myhill
    Gardner - Metitri - Fortune
    Rosenior (Harley, 67) - Clist (Shanahan, 67) - Cleverley - Burke
    Brown,M (Loxton, 82)
    Correia (>Brown,M, 82) - Beadle

    The first impressions of CTFC's brand new Corinium Stadium are entirely favourable located as it is on a greenfield site on the Eastern edge of the old Roman town. The supporters bar is lavishly appointed by the standards of any football club with a wide screen TV to benefit the local ManU-factured "fans" and as decent a pint of Wadworths' 6X as you'll find anywhere.

    It is when you see the playing surface that the true nature of the greenfield becomes more apparent. As with so many new sports grounds, the drainage seems to have been an afterthought to the schedule of works with the extensive sand-slitting carried out only last month still very much in evidence. It was then greatly to the credit of both sides that they were able to serve up such a good game of football, played at a lively pace, on a pitch where the bounce was something of  lottery.

    With the exception of grandfather figure Peter Beadle, leading the City line as part of his quest for match fitness, both teams were very much at the younger end of the scale and set a brisk pace from the start. The home team comprised several players signed from the now defunct Cirencester Academy FC, City's was essentially of graduates and current scholars at our FA Premier Academy. The longer the game went on, the
    more clear it became that the ability to perform at sustained pace would be the final arbiter of the result - and so it was no surprise that the full-time professionals prevailed. But for the assurance of on-loan Boaz Myhill in goal, however, Cirencester would surely have had a goal or two to cheer as reward for their endeavours.

    Action Log (mins)

    10 Great save by Myhill at full stretch

    15 Correia shot from acute angle well saved (but should have squared it to Beadle for a tap-in)

    23 Whilst on his backside Rosenior flicks the ball to Correia who, breaking with support on each side, curls a shot from the edge of the area with the outside of his right boot through the keeper's fingers into the net ... 1-0

    30 Beadle commits a foul in midfield then their kiddy tries to make a name for himself by coming over all Roy Keane about it

    37 Subtle flick from Beads to play in the onrushing Rosenior who's shot is parried for a corner which he then plants on the forehead of the late arriving Marvin. Quality ... 2-0

    38 Marvin sent clear by astute ball from Clist and cooly lobs the keeper ... 3-0

    40 Now its open season, Clisty hits the post with a neatly worked effort from 15 yards; Correia finds keeper's legs in the way in a one-on-one and Clist's follow up chip is plucked from under the bar by the recovering keeper.

    46 Myhill "stays big" to block a home effort created by deflection off referee Wilkes.

    Half-Time: notable for an Aaron Shanahan practice shot clearing the safety netting behind the goal!

    50 Beads again plays Liam in only for the keeper to parry but this time it falls to Albano to stab home his second ... 4-0

    60 Albano misses a sitter for his hat-trick (right foot)

    62 Ditto! (header)

    63 Marvin sends decent shot just wide

    64 Boaz does well to parry a good volley from a corner

    67 Albano gets it right as he heads in from Burke's corner (has to celebrate on his own though) ... 5-0

    73 Double instinctive saves from keeper Myhill

    75 Shanahan belies his half-time form with a jinking run into the box from Burke's pass and tucks away a lovely goal ... 6-0

    86 Loxton pushes one wide

    Awards Ceremony - the usual surreal affair "masterminded" by blazered county FA fossils, floundering hopelessly in the face of new-fangled technology such as microphones!
     

     

    AUGUST REVIEW

     

    MATCH NOTES: Random Reffing Goes Our Way for a Change (Tranmere, 31/08/02) ... another match where it seemed the opposition ploy of playing for a point would prevail ... more ... however, not for the first time already this season it fell to a refereeing decision to turn the match.

    Unlike the penalties awarded against us at Brentford and Plymouth, here our luck was in as Mr Warren awarded a kick for handball against visiting defender Graham Allen. Matt Hill, in particular will know how the player felt about it but the point has to be made that the referee was certainly at fault minutes earlier in turning down penalty claims when Christian Roberts was flattened when clean through on goal.

    With the fourth most successful penalty taker in Bristol City's post-war history (Mickey Bell) already back in the changing room injured, Brian Tinnion accepted the responsibilty and executed the kick with aplomb. Soon after ward Scoot consolidated the scoreline with a snapshot from a Robin Hulbert corner.

    Running through the line-up, Steve Phillips had little to do until the making a superb low save at his left-hand post in the 90th minute and he obviously benefitted from the commanding presence of Tony Butler in front of him - assured in the air and on the ground, confirming everything that has been said over the last few years about the need for such a player. On either side of him Matt Hill and Joe Burnell had the pace to deal with anything he couldn't handle.

    Craig Woodman operating this week at left wing-back once again demonstrated his class and potential; inside him Mickey Bell didn't last long before being forced out with an ankle injury but Simon Clist substituted with increasing confidence as the match went on. In the middle, Tins was Tins - looking as though he'd never been away and to his right Robin Hulbert (my MOTM) had an excellent game in place of the injured Doc.

    Scoot was at his most frustrating today at one time horribly overhitting the ball when it only needed a square pass for Peacock to open the scoring. The latter huffed and puffed but still gives a lack-lustre impression compared to what we know he's capable of. Last but by no means least Christian Roberts was again a constant nuisance to the Tranmere defence, never allowing them a moments peace to settle on balls out of our defence - again, ensuring the game was played more in the opposition's half than was ever the case with Tony Thorpe (a non-playing sub for Luton today) watching the game pass him by.

     

    MATCH NOTES: Choirboys 3-0 Chairboys (Wycombe, 24/08/02)... with three 19 year-olds and a 21 year-old in the back four, City's line-up could have been mistaken for altar boys. But if it was men against boys to start with, it was more a case of boys becoming men as the game progressed ... more ... however, in general I only see home games so I'm only seeing half the job - the better half!

    The fine win over Wycombe is to be applauded - to continue in choral vein, the chorus of Smetena's "Bartered Bride" includes the sentiment only they are truly happy who enjoy life while they may. And if we can't celebrate victories over bogey teams using a very young side we had just as well pack it all in.

    Unfortunately, this win was preceded by defeats at Brentford and Wigan and followed by one at Plymouth where in each case the folly of youth (sendings-off and penalties) cost us the all important opening goals. The young bucks are good enough to learn from such mistakes and they will do so; unfortunately, it seems with City there is never the wherewithal in the rest of the team to overcome such setbacks ... or to take the early chances that would settle the team's nerves.

    The leadership qualities of the player(s) we have needed for so long have long been identified and, indeed, articulated  by the manager himself ... nevertheless the "wait for Godot" goes on.
     

     

    MATCH NOTES: Something to build on? (Blackpool, 12/08/02) ... 2001/02 saw twelve players start over half of City's matches, seven of whom were on the pitch for the first whistle of 2002/03: Bell, Murray, Peacock, Doherty, Brown(A), Burnell and Hill ... more  ... of the others Mark Lever was on the bench, replaced in the line-up by  Keith Millen, newly resurrected as player-coach; Roberts effectively came in for the departed Thorpe; Stowell and Carey were injured with Phillips and Coles their replacements; the twelfth place saw Liam Rosenior standing in for the injured Tinman.

    The net effect was a line-up some one and a half years younger than last season's average of 27 yrs (which is no bad thing).

    Early on Christian Roberts created a chance for himself to start making inroads into the meagre number of times Tony Thorpe gave City the lead last year (four) but it was not to be.

    In the event it was the man with the best record in that respect Lee Peacock (seven) who broke the stalemate, the fact that it came from a corner should be grounds for celebration in itself!

    Scoot's last minute goal did not affect the result but was obviously very welcome, memorable for those of us in the Williams stand for the way the Atyeo started to cheer with the ball still 20 yards from goal.

    The donkey-lashers led by their ex-Swindle manager may complain that being down to nine men "cost them the game". However, the fact is that until the laws of the game are changed to allow players to kick and punch their opponents off the ball they will run the risk of falling to their own indiscipline.

    The sight of their goalkeeper (in the way that keepers regularly get away with in their own area) running into a red shirt in a bid to gain a penalty had us both holding our breath and giggling at the same time, but Steve Phillips quick thinking and Scott Murray's quick feet meted its own poetic justice.

    Bottom Line ... not the most convincing of performances but there were signs in the later stages, albeit against nine men, of better interplay between Peacock and Roberts; Lita and Rosenior looked brimming with energy and confidence; finally, a word for Mickey Bell who's body and its language looks to have got back to the player we've long known he can be.

    2002/03 PREVIEW (04/08/02)

     

    RED'UN RANT:  2002/03 Preview - "Why all the Doom and Gloom?" (04/08/02) ... OK so everybody knows that the club is skint ... more ... everybody knows that where once mere purse-strings secured the moneybags in the Ashton Gate boardroom there is now a tourniquet; and everybody knows that players who are either not wanted or not needed will only leave at further expense to the club ... all the bitter legacy of the ill-advised appointment of Tony Pulis.

    But, hey - let's look on the Bright Cider Life! - we're not the only ones feeling the pinch! For example, we're not Fiorentina, relegated two divisions for not being able to come up with the ante for Serie A; we're not Bradford City, still in business only because creditors have accepted a tenth of what they were owed; and we're not Basement Rovers, obliged to contest a preliminary round of the league cup with a bunch of Lincolnshire poachers as their reward for finishing 91st in the country last season!

    Personally, I am looking forward to 2002/03 - I believe City can do well and I believe automatic promotion is a possibility and should certainly be the objective. But before trying to justify that optimism (as the pessimists would label it), let's start by analysing three reasons commonly quoted by the doomier, gloomier fans to explain why they think City have no chance of promotion:

    1. "We'll miss Thorpe's goals" ... will we really? & myths seem to abound about this player. To hear some talk he's a "clinical" finisher, a "twenty goals a season man" and the local media casually assure us on a regular basis that he's "always the man to get on the end of things in the box."

    * FACT - of the sixteen players who've ever scored 50 or more league goals for City, the only out-and-out striker among them who needed more appearances to achieve the feat was Glyn Riley.

    * FACT - his strike rate last season (39%) matched that of his overall record for City and his career as a whole. It equates to 18 goals for a 46 match season - a tad short of the 20+ mark often ascribed to him, something he has actually achieved only once (1996/97 for Luton) in his career to date ... Shaun Goater he is not!

    Last but by no means least, the hallmark of a "clinical" striker is the knack of coming up with a goal when it is most needed. Check out how many (few) of his goals came when the pressure was really on, i.e. when we were drawing a game or trailing by the odd goal ...

    * FACT - last season only four of the 16 goals Thorpe scored in 42 league appearances gave City the lead (that's once every ten/eleven apps!). By contrast Lee Peacock gave us the lead seven times in his 31 (one in four/five) and Scott Murray did it six times from 37 outings on the wing! (one in six) & don't even think about how often Bobby Zamora came up with the goods for Brighton!

    The last bullet above surely serves to illustrate a point made in Sven Goran Eriksson's book "On Football" where four categories of player are identified according to whether they have high/low ambition and performance anxiety. Players who are both highly ambitious and highly anxious are described as stepping on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time & ambition gives him drive but anxiety holds him back & these players are fine in run-of-the-mill matches but fade away when the chips are really down - "they get desperate when they miss goals, they get mad with themselves and their team-mates and, not least, with the referee. Players like this are dangerous, as their negative fear can spread like fire to others in the team, provoking performance anxiety in everyone." & "They depend on things going well. They are typical "fair-weather" players in that they can do very well indeed as long as they are riding the wave of success. But when the going gets tough, everything comes to a halt and nothing will go right."

    Bottom Line - It's not HOW, or even HOW MANY - it's WHEN that Counts!


    2. "The youngsters were found wanting last season"
    ... were they really? ... the average age of last season's team on the pitch was 27 which isn't all that young. The nucleus of the side was formed by a dozen players who each started in at least half the matches:

    * 4 Veterans (30+ yrs) - Stowell, Tinnion, Lever, Bell
    * 4 Seniors (24-29 yrs) - Thorpe, Murray, Peacock, Carey
    * 4 Young pros (U/23) - Doherty, Brown,A, Hill, Burnell.

    Rather than 4V:4S:4Y, I'd sooner see a balance of 2V:6S:4Y in the expectation of greater mobility with no loss of resilience. A glance at the overall squad last season shows that these permutations had to come from a population of 9V:7S:21Y - heaven help any club which were  to try and field nine players over the age of 30(!) but three of those veterans were injured all season and Goodridge was jettisoned early on, so leaving the four above plus Steve Jones (5V). Seven is a paltry number of senior pros to start with but with both Paul Holland and John Burns out of the picture that figure was further reduced, leaving the four above plus Steve Phillips (5S).

    Effectively then the eight most experienced players in the starting line-up were being selected from a pool of ten, of whom two were goalkeepers (with the manager bafflingly preferring the creaking Stowell to the agile Phillips) and three were forwards. With a goalie and a forward having to drop to the bench all the others knew they'd be playing as long as they still had a pulse on the Saturday morning! & and, with no real threat to their place, its no wonder certain players went through the season looking as though they'd rather be shopping!

    Options were further limited by the inevitable onset of injuries and suspensions, particularly when they struck the more-effective players, i.e. Leapy (albeit self-inflicted) for the first third of the season, Tins in December and Scoot in the run-in.

    At these times the squad needed to be able to provide cover that maintained the team's balance of youthful exuberance and mature assurance. In the event, Peacock's absence was covered by the re-emergence of Steve Jones, successfully at first but the goals dried-up as the lack of pace in his forward pairing with Tony Thorpe became exposed. Tinnion's absence coincided with a string of matches against the division's weaker teams (however, these successes which took City to the top for New Year may have kidded the board and/or management that strengthening was not required).

    Sadly, it was the injury to Murray that finally exposed the squad's limitations despite the nominal employment of no fewer than sixteen players of 24yrs-old plus. Weeks went by in the fruitless search for an experienced replacement to play wide right. Ultimately, it was another youngster who was drafted in but after an impressive showing in his first half-match Harpal Singh was easily negated playing wide-left, nor did he prove able to provide the answer when switched to the side of the pitch City had come to rely (over-rely?) upon attacking. Steve Robinson proved merely to be too little too late.

    Bottom Line - It seems mighty illogical me to criticise the youngsters - wrongly undermining their confidence - just because a few games were lost when the team's balance was upset by five or six of them having to start all at once. Instead, point the finger at an expensive collection of older players that lacked the required depth of quality, durability and application.


    3. "You have to speculate to accumulate"
    ... do you really? ... isn't investment generally a better way to risk capital?

    It is a commonplace that the cost of City's participation in the FA Premier Academy programme is around 600k - 700k per annum.

    It has never been particularly clear exactly what costs are included to arrive at this figure (if anybody reading this can help please mail me). Nevertheless it would make an interesting study if, for example, these costs were set against all the players the academy has supplied to the first team squad (and the wages they are on) compared to the corresponding figures for players transferred in.

    What is clear is that with every successive year the proportion of places in the team being filled by homegrown talent is rising. Aaron Brown is the oldest current player to have had any contact with the academy as an U/19 in its first season (1998/99) - he made 14 starts that season and Andy Jordan one for a total of 15. The following season the total rose to 59 (despite half-a-season of Pulis' ideas) thence to 127 in 2000/01 and 154 last season. When you add in players who came through the ranks before the formation of the academy, homegrown talent filled 236 of the possible 506 starting places in 2002/03 (47% compared to 18% in 1997/98).
    Whereas the product of City's various youth schemes of the time resulted in only three players - Rob Newman, Matt Bryant and Andy Llewellyn - ever progressing to the club's senior (24+yrs) ranks during the whole of the 1990s, this decade has already seen Louis Carey, Steve Phillips and Matt Hewlett achieve the mark, with Tommy Doherty also poised to do so at the time of writing.

    Bottom Line - The academy has already provided more than enough suitable candidates for the number places in a balanced team one might expect to be filled by young players. From next season, on an annual basis, we can expect the names of academy graduates to start lengthening the list of homegrown players occupying senior berths, and this will be the justification for its investment.


    And so to justify my "optimism" all I have to do is reconsider the points above and see that, far from reaching the negative conclusion of the doom-and-gloomsters, mine is actually very much a positive:

    1. Replacing the few valuable goals that Tony Thorpe scored last season should not be too taxing - Scott Murray can chip in just as effectively given the killer pass from midfield, Lee Peacock undoubtedly has the potential to be an actual 20 goals a season man not just a mythical one, Christian Roberts has the pace and Marvin Brown the trickery to trouble second division defences. Between them these players, plus Lee Matthews (if he ever bothers to get properly fit) and even the wily Peter Beadle, are more than capable of scoring the goals that will give City the lead enough times not to miss Thorpe's meagre contribution.

    2. Of those who formed the nucleus of the team that finished seventh last season, only Tony Thorpe has actually left and, as already covered in great detail, he won't be missed as much as some like to make out. Both Lever and Bell were transfer-listed and it is clear that a commanding central defender remains top of the manager's shopping list. Let's hope in Bell's case that it acts as a wake-up call and that he plays all of his remaining matches for City in the same vein as those of the last few weeks of 2002/03. Thankfully, Steve Phillips looks set as the rightful first-choice goalkeeper, although I have lingering doubts about the strength in depth of that key group of players between the ages of 24 and 29.

    3. It is enough on the subject of "speculate to accumulate" to record that whilst quality recruits for particular positions are indeed being sought, mercifully, there appears to be neither the will nor the wherewithal to embark on any more splurges at the journeymen hypermarket!

    Finally, the above preview has taken no notice whatsoever of what other clubs in the division may or may not be doing in preparation for the forthcoming campaign. That is because it really is all about what Bristol City do that will determine whether promotion is achieved - I believe that it can be done, and I believe that if the players truly believe it to then they will find it within their character to make it happen.
     

     

    2001/02 REVIEW (13/04/02)

     

    RED'UN RANT:  2001/02 Post Mortem - "When the Going got Tough ... City got Lost!" (13/04/02) ... and so it will be another four long months before Bristol City play another meaningful match ... more ... the race for the second division play-off places ended one week before the end of the 2001/02 season because our team -  who were top of the table on New Year's Day - once again lost when the chips were down. By contrast, nearest rivals Cardiff and Huddersfield showed the strength of character to come from a goal behind to win when they needed to - something City have managed to do only once all season in 21 attempts (ironically at Cardiff!).
    As with the adverse record of goals scored in the last five minutes of matches, the poor showing in cup matches, the poor record against the teams who've finished above us, and the weaknesses at set pieces at both ends of the pitch, these statistics all point to weakness of resolve, self-belief and determination moreso than lack of ability.    
    In short, it is not HOW goals are scored that matters (except for entertainment value), it is not even HOW MANY goals (that is just the basic requirement), rather it is against WHOM and WHEN it matters that is the difference between the success we crave and the failure we once again have to endure.
    What the squad needs more than anything else are a couple of mature bods at its heart who KNOW how to win and are not just guessing!
    This site specialises in providing performance information not available elsewhere not for the sake of it but so that testing questions may be asked and/or areas that need to be improved can be highlighted. BCL! regulars, I know, appreciate these insights the creativity and shooting data provide into the strengths and weaknesses of the team and individual players. They will have noticed soon enough the glaring imbalance in the provision of goals/assists from different areas of the team which fact was stubbornly ignored by the board/management until the brightest creative spark (Scott Murray) inevitably got injured, i.e. until it was too late! They will also have viewed with concern the preponderence of unfit 30yrs+ veterans in the senior squad at the expense of players in their peak 24-29yrs.
    As those who are signed-up for the mailing list (see left) already know, I shall not be doing much in the way of updates in the meantime (unless the club does something foolish!) ... this in preparation for a relaunch and a change of host ISP.
    It is to be fervently hoped that by the time the 2002/03 season kicks off the board/management will have done something about the problems indicated above. The time for talking a good game has stopped - actions speak louder than words!       

    Virtute et Industrial

    Oh, we'm be Brizzle kiddies,

    We comes from Brizzle City,

    Where all the boys is 'ansom -

     

     

    And all the gurls is pretty!

    We'm proud of our 'ome town,

    It never lets we down,

    And yer'z a little ditty,

    Wot we sings on Bedminster Down!

    Adge Cutler (1930-74)

     

     

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